Today was the last-but-one meeting of The Whizzy Group1. I told members I have written a new book proposal this week, and that I shared it with my agent.
He seems excited about it, I said.
And then I asked for help.
Share my process
One member, in the chat, wanted to know what the book is about. It’s about How To Write, I said.
Watching his face as I said that, I noticed that he looked pleased, which was encouraging. And he went on to make several great suggestions in answer to my request.
And what was my request? Well, I rambled a bit because I hadn’t prepared beforehand. But it was basically this:
- How do I write the book in such a way that I can harness the interest of the people who might want to read it?
- How can I make the process of writing interactive?
- How can I narrow the focus just enough (but not too much)?
I mean, a book about “How To Write” is too vague. Who is it even for?
My instinct told me that it’s more or less for (most or some of) the people in my Whizzy Group, or in my Special Projects membership. After all, several have already taken the online course in How To Write that I made with The Idler Academy.
So these were the perfect people to answer my request.
Watch Me Write This Essay
I know, it’s a bit meta to watch a video in which I write the essay you are reading. But hey, that’s one of the things I’ll be doing in August, to share the process of writing my book about how to write.
You might as well see what it’s like, before you decide whether you want to join me.
Suggestions So Far
In no particular order:
- Perhaps you can interview people who are creative but not writers, and talk about the stories they want to write (or tell), and help them?
- You could do what you did in your speaking book2: give examples of good writing from a variety of genres, and explain what makes it good, how it works.
- That could include food writing, advertising, marketing, fiction, journalism, music and more.
- You could vary it so that you give examples by other people, and examples of your own.
- (My own idea) I could livestream from the inside of my website and show how I am updating material in the archive. For instance, this Sunday Times story about Chris Langham, which I wrote many years ago but which continues to get a lot of traffic:
- (Mine again) I could livestream while I write new things.
- You could do what you did in the pop-up newsletter about speeches, connecting Margaret Thatcher in 1981 to the issue of Covid masks today3. That is: you could take one bit of writing and show how it might be applied to something completely different.
- You could do something like Emily Maitliss (BBC Newsnight presenter) did in her book: looking into particular interviews and what worked/could have worked better.
- You could do illustrations about writing.4
- You could do recordings of you typing (ASRM style).5
- You could be an ‘Agony Uncle’ for writing.
- You could host co-writing sessions, where we all just write together in silence.
- You could put all these ideas together on your various platforms – your podcast, your website, your social media etc. You can invite people to vote on them and make suggestions.
As you see, I’ve done some of these things in the video I recorded of myself writing this essay. Thank you for all your ideas.
If you have read this far, and / or watched the video (below), go to the top of the class, and have a gold star – two gold stars if you did both.
Tomorrow, I’ll post more about this. In August, I’ll start doing (some of?) these things, and maybe more things too, as I write my book semi-publicly.
And I’ll tell you more, soon, about how you can join in.
Note: If you have any suggestions or questions,
send me an email
2 A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech, published in 2021 by Short Books, and available in all the finest bookshops online and IRL. | Back
4 Done: see top of page. | Back